by Barry Dysert
(last updated September 25, 2017)
SyncToy is a small but powerful utility written by Microsoft but not included in Windows. Its purpose is to keep pairs of folders synchronized so that what gets added to one of the folders gets automatically added to the other folder in the pair. You could, therefore, consider SyncToy as a type of backup for files/folders (assuming your pairs of folders are on different drives).
The interface for SyncToy is quite simple. (See Figure 1.)
Figure 1. SyncToy's startup screen.
From here you can see all of the folder pairs that are being kept in sync and you're also given the option of creating a new folder pair.
You create a new folder pair by clicking the Create New Folder Pair button in the bottom center of the screen. SyncToy immediately presents you with a Wizard that walks you through the process. You have the opportunity to specify the the names of the folders, how you want them synchronized (Synchronize, Echo, or Contribute), and the name of your job. Once the job is created, you can run it to effect the synchronization process or preview what would happen if you did run it.
Another great feature of SyncToy is the ability to run it from the command line. This means you can create a scheduled task to keep your files in sync to within 24 hours. To do this, create a Basic Task whose action is to start a program. The program to start (assuming you install it to its default location) is "C:\Program Files\SyncToy 2.1\SyncToyCmd.exe" and specify the "-R" argument.
SyncToy is a free download. You can find it (and download it) here:
As far as I can tell, SyncToy works only with Windows 7. Microsoft has not (for some reason) provided an updated version that is designed to work with later versions of Windows.
This tip (12968) applies to Windows 7.
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